Yes! You have read the title right – A butterfly controls your body!
The butterfly being referred here is the thyroid gland – the butterfly shaped gland that controls the metabolism of our body.
The thyroid gland is a 2-inch long gland that is present in the front of the throat below ‘Adam’s Apple’.
Thyroid hormone is responsible for controlling many of the body’s vital functions like
- Heart rate
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
- Skin Texture
- Hair Growth
When there is a problem with the thyroid, you are in for great trouble!
Let us look at the bigger picture now.
The Endocrine System
The collection of glands those responsible for producing hormones in order to regulate metabolism, growth, sexual function, tissue function, mood, sleep and other things is called Endocrine system.
The glands that form the endocrine system
|The Endocrine System Includes
The endocrine system affects the entire body.
Every gland secretes a different hormone which is targeted towards certain organ and tissue.
When the hormone levels are high or low in the blood, then it indicates problem in the particular gland that produces the hormones.
The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid is one of the major glands in the endocrine system that produces, stores and releases into the bloodstream.
The two main hormones produced by the thyroid gland with the help of iodine from the food we intake are Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4).
These hormones are responsible for the body’s vital functions as mentioned above. The most important function is the regulation of heart rate and the metabolism.
The pituitary and the hypothalamus communicate with the thyroid gland in order to maintain the T3 and T4 levels.
When the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland (by releasing the TSH Releasing hormone), the pituitary gland produces TSH (Thyroid stimulating Hormone) to signal the thyroid to produce T3 and T4.
When T3 or T4 levels are low in the bloodstream, the pituitary gland produces more TSH to indicate the thyroid gland to produce more T3 and T4 and vice versa.
Hypothyroid and Hyperthyroid
When the T3 and T4 are low in the body, it means the thyroid hormone production is below normal (hypothyroidism).
Causes Of Hypothyroidism
Common causes for hypothyroidism are autoimmune disorders, medications, problem with pituitary gland, iodine deficiency or removal of thyroid.
Hypothyroidism may show symptoms of
- Increase in cholesterol levels
- Sleeping disorder
- Dry hair leading to hair loss and dry skin
- Sensitivity to cold temperature
- Period problems
- Muscle Pain
When T3 and T4 are high in the bloodstream, it means that the thyroid hormone production is above the normal level (hyperthyroidism).
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
The common causes of hyperthyroidism are Grave’s Syndrome, Functioning Adenoma, Toxic multinodular Goiter, Excessive intake of thyroid hormones, Abnormal secretion of TSH and inflammation of thyroid gland.
Hyperthyroidism may show symptoms of
- Mood Swings
- Hyperactivity and nervousness
- Trembling of hand
- Hair loss
- Menstrual problems
- Rapid heart rate
How to Diagnosis Thyroid Malfunction
Hypothyroidism is detected with the help of blood tests to check the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. In patients with hypothyroid, T3 and T4 are usually decreased.
However, in case of earlier stage in hypothyroidism, T3 and T4 appear to be normal.
Hence, the best way to confirm this is to look into the TSH which would be elevated in the case of hypothyroid patients.
Hyperthyroid is diagnosed through blood tests to measure the amount of TSH in the bloodstream.
There are also certain specific tests like the antibody screening, thyroid scans, and using radioactively active iodine that help in detecting the exact cause.
Sometimes the functioning of hypothalamus and pituitary is also tested.
Hypothyroidism is usually treated with synthetic levothyroxine (T4) as it is the most stable form of thyroid hormone.
For patients with underlying heat disease, the dosage is carefully given and monitored. Treatment for hypothyroidism is monitored in six weeks’ interval.
Blood tests are taken periodically to determine the correct amount of thyroid replacement being given.
Treatment of hyperthyroidism may differ according to the severity of the disease. The symptoms such as palpitation is treated with the help of medications.
Sometimes, anti-thyroid drugs are taken to control the secretion of thyroid hormone.
If the thyroid is overactive, treatment with radioactive iodine is sometimes recommended in order to destroy the thyroid and then thyroid replacement therapy is continued.
In rare cases, surgery is performed to remove the whole or part of the affected thyroid.
For Hypothyroidism, foods like Fish, Nuts, Whole Grains, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Seaweeds, Dairy and Beans are recommended.
Foods like Soy, Cruciferous vegetables, Gluten, Fatty Foods, Sugary foods, Processed foods, Excess fibre, Coffee and Alcohol needs to be avoided.
For Hyperthyroidism, foods like berries, broccoli, Salmon, Turkey and Yoghurt are recommended.
Foods like Suspected food allergens, High-Glycaemic carbs, Goitrogenic foods, Unhealthy fats, Alcohol and Caffeine needs to be avoided.
Problems with thyroid should not be avoided. Ignoring the symptoms would lead to serious health issues that would be even life-threatening. If you have any of the symptoms, then consult an endocrinologist immediately to get your thyroid tested and treated.